Only recently have I discovered the wonder of the fig. True, I ate Fig Newtons when I was a kid, breaking off the cakey edges first and then popping the seedysweet middle in my mouth. A few years ago, I discovered fig spread. I would put a dollop of it in my greek yogurt with a dash of cinnamon for breakfast. But fresh figs eluded me until about a year ago. I think I’ve been trying to make up for it ever since, because I now eat them ALL the time. I equate summertime in California with an abundance of figs dangling from trees, begging to be plucked. I’m in denial that it’s officially fall and soon figs will be almost impossible to come by until early next summer.
I’m taking this opportunity to encourage one last figtastic affair with a recipe adapted from The New York Times. It was originally published in the end of September – “Fig Tart With Caramelized Onions, Rosemary and Stilton.” It was accompanied by a mouth-watering photo. I saved the article with the intention of baking it soon, very soon.
A month passed by and I still hadn’t tried it. Then, on a wind-whipped and stormy Saturday night in late October, I met my friend Sarah (travel companion on the French Riviera, creator of this blog’s namesake, and cross-country pen pal extraordinaire) at her apartment in Brooklyn. Neither of us wanted to brave the torrential downpour going on outside, so we opted to get cozy with delivery and a movie. I opened Sarah’s three-ring binder full of local restaurant menus and in the front pocket, like some sort of sign from the fig fairy, was the very same fig tart recipe I’d saved. So, we had no choice but to head out for ingredients and wine and make the thing come alive!
We returned from our grocery gathering mission drenchedwithsquishysocks and with a few ingredient variations. Most significant of all, there was no puff pastry to be found in a two mile radius. I swear. So, we opted for whole-wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe’s. (A healthier option, certainly.) And, we swapped out the Stilton cheese for a log of chevre. Ohh, and a splash of red wine found its way into the milk and egg mixture. (In other words, Sarah’s first glass of wine went straight to her head. She got tipsy and proceeded to spill the contents of her second glass onto the counter, with a healthy dash landing in the mixing bowl.) We rolled with it. Nixed the sherry vinegar (it’s made from wine, after all) and opted for the unanticipated splash of red wine instead. I’m happy to report that all ingredient swaps worked beautifully.
The caramelized onion base was a bit of a revelation for me. I’m convinced it’s the best foundation upon which to place other pizza toppings. The figs were wonderful, but you could do potato or tomato or sausage or peppers or all of the above. Just make sure you take the time to saute the onions until they’re soft and brown.
We ended up eating the ENTIRE pizza. And it was good to the very last bite.
Fig and Caramelized Onion Pizza
Adapted from The New York Times
Serves 2-4 as a main course. (I’m tempted to say it serves 2, period, to make myself feel like less of a piglet. It’s a pizza. You know how much you handle.)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large white onions (1 1/2 pounds), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 sprig rosemary, more for garnish
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/4 cup milk
Flour for dusting
Whole-wheat pizza dough (enough for one pie, we used Trader Joe’s)
1 pint fresh figs ( 3/4 pound), stemmed and cut in half lengthwise
1 log goat cheese, in small pieces
2 tablespoons pine nuts
Good-quality honey for drizzling, optional (We omitted, but would be a nice addition if you want a sweeter pie.)
- In a large skillet over low heat, melt butter with oil. Add onions, rosemary and sugar. Cook, tossing occasionally, until onions are limp and golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, scraping any browned bits from bottom of pan.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and egg until smooth. Stir in the onions. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Apply a thin layer of oil to an 11 by 17-inch baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pizza dough to a 9 by 12-inch rectangle. Transfer to baking sheet.
- Use a fork to spread onion mixture evenly over dough (let excess egg mixture drip back into bowl), leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange figs, cut-side up, in even rows on onion mixture. Scatter cheese and pine nuts over figs. Gently fold over edges of pizza dough to form a lip and brush with egg mixture.
- Bake until pizza is golden and figs are a little oozy, 20 to 30 minutes. Serve, sprinkled with rosemary needles and drizzled with honey, if desired.